Tokyo Jihen: Shinyawaku

Tokyo Jihen: ShinyawakuThe dissolution of Tokyo Jihen in February 2012 spurred EMI Japan to flood store shelves with Tokyo Jihen releases. In addition to a 6-track EP (color bars), the label released a live compilation (Tokyo Collection) and a b-sides collection (Shinyawaku). In February 2013, a comprehensive boxed set is scheduled.

If taken as an album in its own regard, Shinyawaku could stand along side Sports and Otona as the best Tokyo Jihen had to offer. The album had a diverse range of material, from disco and dirty funk to covers of Rodgers and Hart and Brenda Lee.

In particular, the band’s take on the obscure Ned Doheny track “Get It Up for Love” — translated as “Koi wa Maboroshi” — injects a shot of energy into the too-mellow original. “Pinocchio” could have been an incredibly lush track if Shiina Ringo recorded it for her own solo work.

“Gaman” and “Kaban no Nakami” offer the straight-ahead rock at which Tokyo Jihen excels but at times went missing on the albums proper.

Like Sports and Otona, Shinyawaku has little in the way of filler, which is odd considering the fact these tracks served no other purpose than to fill out single releases.

Which then brings up the point: how did these tracks not end up on the album?

Tokyo Jihen’s weakest album, Goraku, could have been strengthened with the inclusion of “B.B.Queen” or “Pinocchio”.

“Kao”, a coupling track from the single “Gunjou Biyori”, is a lot more interesting than some of the tracks that made it onto the band’s debut, Kyoiku.

As tight a collection Shinyawaku may be, it’s also a document of Tokyo Jihen’s missteps. A lot of this material is just too good to have been stashed away on individual singles, and their compilation onto a single release shouldn’t overshadow the main canon.